In Lamps Plus, Inc. v. Varela, No. 17-988 (Apr. 24, 2019), the Supreme Court held that because of the “fundamental” differences between individual arbitration and class arbitration — i.e., a class action claim that is determined in an arbitration proceeding — it is error for a court to use a traditional tool for contract interpretation (construing an agreement against its drafter) to resolve ambiguous language in an agreement in favor of class arbitration. As discussed below, the decision in Lamps Plus is the latest in a line of cases that the Supreme Court has decided based largely on the view of a bare majority of the court (the decisions have all been 5-4 or 5-3) that class arbitration is fundamentally inconsistent with the way arbitration is supposed to work. As also discussed below, while Lamps Plus is good news for corporate entities who want to avoid class actions, it leaves open a couple of procedural avenues by which a plaintiff may yet be able to compel class arbitration. Lamps Plus involved a complaint filed in federal court by an employee against an employer (Lamps Plus) arising out of a data breach for which the employer was allegedly responsible. The claims […]
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